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I have a black sport trail all terrain Rockrider that I bought from Walmart for around 150 dollars. All was well for a few months, until I noticed a loud clunky sound with my pedals that made it hard to ride. The pedals would also feel like they were lighty stopping or fighting against me while riding, and when I checked out my bike, I noticed this string thing was loose, and my right brake was not working. Any suggestions for what could be the issue and how to fix?

Below I've link to two images of the string thing; the first is how it is, and the second is how it's supposed to be.

How it is
How it's supposed to be

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    It sounds like the wheel might be out of true as well, if the brakes are dragging intermittently. There's also a chance it's a gear cable that's snapped, dropping it into the highest gear, but with jumping or slipping to make that stop/start feeling you report. But the non-working brake is the place to start, whether or not the loose cable is the cause of that.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 17 at 6:06
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    A picture of the rear brake would be useful.
    – Rеnаud
    Commented Jun 17 at 10:48
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    The second image is not how it is supposed to be (I suppose you are just holding it in place); the outer black hull of the cable should be in a fixture attached to the frame or the brake, as in Weiwen Ng's answer. Commented Jun 18 at 7:26
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    Also, tongue-in-cheek: I thought what you do with a $150 bike is throw it away (that is, take it to Goodwill) when a problem occurs and buy a new one. Still cheaper in the long run than buying a $2000 bike and paying for all the repairs, let alone the danger of it being stolen. Commented Jun 18 at 7:45
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    @Ray it's a good place to start learning, and maybe this discussion will help sort out the terminology for the OP to find more information. Internally routed cables are much harder than the ones you get on this sort of bike
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 20 at 14:34

4 Answers 4

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That's an inner cable that has snapped somewhere, and is dangling under its own weight.

I guess your rear brake is "dragging" on the rear wheel, and you're fighting the resistance at all times.

The inner cable needs replacing, and I'd suggest checking the other side too. You absolutely need two working brakes while riding, in case one fails.

If you're handy with tools, this is something you can do yourself. If not, then ask a competent friend for assistance, or try a bike cooperative. Last resort is take it to a bike shop, but labour rates could surprise you. The cable itself is only a few dollars to buy.

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A bit of a late answer, but look at the circled thingy in the photo below. I edited it from a pic by Sim Works.

enter image description here

That's called a housing stop. There should be several on the frame. Your brakes and derailleurs are operated by pulling cables. The cables are encased in housing. The cable housing terminates at the housing stop, then the exposed cable travels to another housing stop - in the picture, there is a partner housing stop on the front end of the bike, out of the picture.

Anyway, many of them are slotted, so that you can just slide the cable through easily (otherwise you'd have to thread the cable through a hole). The second housing stop that's not circled but it leads to the brake? That's clearly slotted. It's possible that your cables slipped out of the housing. You may be able to thread them back in.

This shouldn't happen in normal operations. It's possible the brake or derailleur associated with the cable was set up with the cable too loose. Hard to be certain without being there. If you manually un-bolt the cable to loosen it, you'd then have to re-adjust the brake or derailleur affected.

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  • A rather slack cable combined with a stiff lever (on release) can cause the cable to jump out of the stop every time he brake is released quickly. I've also seen all sorts of odd failure modes from bikes snagging on each other in parking racks
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 18 at 13:51
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Another brake failure with similar symptoms is a loose pinch bolt. Essentially all cable brakes have such a bolt, which grips the cable in the brake mechanism. If this isn't tight enough, the cable can slip through it when pulled during braking, degrading performance until nothing happens.

pinch bolt on a front V brake

This is on the front, which made for a clearer view; the relevant bolt is ringed in red. You can see the cable goes under a tab washer, that holds it securely.

The fix is to loosen this bolt, pull the cable back through it, and tighten it properly. Before doing so, I would screw in the barrel adjuster on the brake lever that can be used to adjust for wear, if that's been used to tighten the cable.

Here (wheelies.co.uk) is a step-by-step tutorial for V brakes, which are likely on this type of bike. Cable disc brakes (not normally seen at this price point) use a similar pinch bolt arrangement down near the hub. They also often have a barrel adjuster there that can take up small amounts of slack.

The tool you need is normally a 5mm Allen key, but I've seen V brakes that need a spanner (either 8mm or 10mm, I can't remember).

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For reference, another possible reason is that the brake has been opened, and not closed. This would however happen after an "event" such as removing the wheel for transport, to repair a puncture or something else, and it would not produce a clunky sound.

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